(2017-11-02) Quarterly Existential Crisis
Quarterly Existential Crisis
Summary: Ryuunosuke's about due for his regular quarterly existential crisis. Tabitha happens to catch sight of him, and talking seems to help.
Date: IC Date (2017-11-02)
Related: None
NPCs: None
Scene Runner: None

It's a school day. What's a kid from Coral Springs doing at this old park? That's plainly what he is, the uniform is enough to tell that. Those in the know? He's a Metis. Those even more in the know? It's Ryuunosuke. That's a face that hasn't been seen around even the school much. He'd disappeared from the dorms a while back, but was still seen in classes. Given the trouble he'd been causing, he'd probably been commuting, and being forced to live elsewhere.

Though now? Well, he's not causing any trouble, not in this place. There's no one here to cause trouble with, really. He sits on one of the rusted swings, feet rocked back on his heels, arms looped around the chains and crossed, holding the opposite one, his chin resting on his crossed arms. He's quiet and stares out into the distance as if he's not really seeing what's in front of him.

Well there's not exactly no one in the park, they just weren't anywhere someone would normally look. The surface of the fishing pond becomes agitated as it's broken in several places by the surfacing of figures dressed in coral and charcoal diving gear, except without any tanks or obvious breathing aparatus. What each one does have is a large bag made of dive netting and each bag is overflowing with trash and other detrius. They gather at the end of the pond nearest the edge of the park bordered by a large new privacy fence and drop their burdens.

The smallest of them pauses to give her knee length sable and copper hair a vigorous shaking to get the spare water out then nods towards the fence. "Okay, that's enough work for today. Take it all downstairs and sort it into breakdown bins, then ask Jazz what she still needs for the next hurricane relief trip." One of the others nods towards the swings and the short woman glances over and gives a short, "Huh." before handing her bag off. "Take mine in, too. Gonna go say hi."

It's not long after that she sits down on the swing to Ryu's left and gives it a slight kick to put a bit of motion into it. Her violently purple eyes shift over to watch Ryu before asking, "So, Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

One would think, with all that activity, that the fellow on the swing would notice that. But he doesn't really seem to. Or if he does, he doesn't register it. But when Tabitha sits to his left and speaks, he jumps a little. A shadow serpent sneaks out from behind him, just a flash of movement as if to defend him from something that may be coming his way; when nothing is forthcoming as an attack, the serpent disappears.

Once he realizes who it is, Ryuunosuke offers a small smile. "Hello," he greets. "I didn't expect to see you here." His voice is quiet, subdued… definitely unlike the great Yamato-no-Orochi he purports to be. "Apologies for the startle."

Tabitha glances over at the shadow serpent until it fades away, one eyebrow raising slightly then lowering again. She returns the small with one of her own. "Hey there. Didn't expect to see you around here. Heard a rumor that you'd been taken out from the school." Her violently purple eyes dance slightly as she grins. "And since when do you apologize?" She starts to reach over as if to feel Ryu's forehead. "You sick or something?"

Ryuunosuke chuckles as Tabitha leans over. His skin is cool, as it usually is, but his temperature's normal. He doesn't bother pushing her hand away. "Perhaps I am. I have not been… myself for some time. I become less like myself as time goes on, in fact. That idiot priestess believes it is a good thing. I do not share her opinion." He pauses there, lowering his head.

He almost doesn't speak further. But… Tabitha knew who he was. And she didn't shun him even after she knew. Wasn't afraid. She seemed to understand him, in fact. And there was that odd kinship he could remember. So, in halting tones, he continues to speak.

"Something inside me… it feels like something inside me is dying," he says quietly, not looking at Tabitha. "Deprived of air. Wilting. It is dying, and I cannot stop it."

Tabitha listens quietly, a slight frown emerging towards the end. "I can't speak for any priestess as to what is good or not. I've… learned too much recently to retain any normal view of good or evil." She gives Ryu a sidelong look when he talks of part of himself dying. "It's not a good feeling. I can at least say that when a similar thing happened to me, it was by my own hand and over quickly. I shudder to think what it feels like when prolonged." She is quiet for a moment then asks, "Do you think it is something of the demon passing… or the boy?"

Hearing that Tabitha's views of 'good' and 'evil' aren't what one would call normal… fills Ryuunosuke with a kind of relief he hasn't felt in a long time. Being expected to adhere to human standards is hard for a demon, particularly such an 'evil' one, and one so old. And he felt some of that weight lift from his shoulders. "It displeases me to hear that such a thing has happened to you as well. Though I am glad you did not suffer unduly for it."

As for that question? "I… do not know," he says hesitantly. "We are bonded so closely that it is hard to tell sometimes where one ends and the other begins. I do not know myself as well as I once did. Perhaps I have spent too long in the Shrine. The Priestess insisted upon my remaining in the Yaegaki Shrine for most of this year…"

Tabitha smiles wanly, "Thank you. I learned where the powers I once had came from and… and how old I truly am." She offers a quick grin, "Not as old as you, of course. But after learning that and more I cut the source out of me." Her hand goes up and presses against her breastbone, "Literally."

She listens to Ryu's words about the bonding and the shrine and ponders quietly. "Could that have been her goal, to keep you in a place that would… cement the bond between yours and the boy's essences? Change you to something more… blended?"

"The boy is only seventeen," Ryuunosuke assures. "And I spent most of the intervening time floating through the ether, thanks to Susanoo-no-Mikoto." His expression flickers a bit, in distaste. He raises an eyebrow, though, when Tabitha mentions literally cutting the power source out of herself. "That is what you meant? By killing something inside of you?" He can't help but wince; he can't imagine doing that himself.

But the mention of Kiyoko's goals? Ryuunosuke shakes his head. "That seems unlikely. The boy would have been unaffected, only I would have been weakened by this. And it does not explain why I feel something dying within me. Would not a bond feel like the two of us were blending together, and not that something that I cannot see is dying?"

Tabitha's hand over her chest squeezes reflexively at the quesiton, "… Yeah, but I didn't kill it. Not sure it can die, or that it was even alive to begin with. But I couldn't keep going knowing that I was just the stay-fresh packaging… just an incubator." Her voice quiets as she talks, dropping to a bare whisper at the end. But she shakes herself back to the 'now' quickly enough, her hand going back to the swing chain and then giving herself a kick to keep the swing moving a bit.

"But that's neither here nor there, and it's not why your eight-headed self is kicking dust in an overgrown park." She lets out a cleansing breath, stops the swing and twists it so she's facing Ryu. "I can't argue with your point about blending being unlikely, and I can only wish that I knew more about magic and such that might offer something useful. Only thing I can think to do might not sit too well with you, and understandably so."

Ryuunosuke smirks. "Perhaps not. But you are the only one I have met from Coral Springs that does not treat me as though I am something horrible. It is, perhaps a human need for such a thing… but perhaps understandable that I would be concerned over your welfare, under the circumstances." Probably the closest he's ever come to admitting he actually LIKES someone.

Though as she mentions there being something she can do, even if he wouldn't like it, Ryuunosuke raises a brow. "What might that be?" he inquires, curious.

Tabitha straightens on the swing, her face and voice becoming stern although the gentle warmth remains in her violently purple eyes. "To me you will always be someone dangerous to know, but I will not fear you. You will always be terrible, but never horrible. Yours is the path of destruction, but life crowned your back. You walked dark rivers, Yamata no Orochi, but you have always belonged in the wider pattern of older gods. And even now, in your bound state, you retain your nature." Now her expression shifts slightly, gaining a touch of irony. "I say this to remind you that even if you might do something that feels like it humbles you or puts you beneath yourself, nothing ever can. And since I was going to suggest talking to your priestess as a source of council rather than a jailer, I figured you could do with hearing all that other stuff first."

Ryuunosuke seems surprised at this from Tabitha. Her words prompt a stunned silence. Perhaps because he understands what she says. And something in his understanding that had been cloudy ever since this happened, since he was bonded to this boy, suddenly becomes clearer. And he notes it aloud, too.

Looking at the ground, he says hesitantly, "…I had been speaking to her about that. I asked her why she did not just kill us both — I an this boy. It would send us both back into the cycle, and she would have won. But she said that was not what she wanted, and that she would not give up."

Perhaps surprisingly, he doesn't react with as much revulsion as Tabitha might have expected. Though he approaches the whole thing from a purely pragmatic point of view. "…I suppose that makes sense. She knows the nature of the bond better than anyone else, since she was wholly responsible for it in the first place…" Here he curls his lip in distaste, though only mildly so. "I would hate to give her the satisfaction of feeling that she had somehow won…" And here he sighs. "…But if she has not, then no one has. I most definitely have not."

Tabitha nods a bit, "Yep, hence the reminding you of the truth of your nature. I figured that talking to her wouldn't be an overly comfortable option. But as you say, she is responsible for the bond and would be the best source of information about what you're going through." She ponders for a moment before continuing, "Main issue I can think of is how to make sure she responds with the truth. Does her order have any sort of oaths in that direction?"

"She is Shinto," Ryuunosuke replies. "Aside from that, she is a human. She will likely try to push me towards the end that she would most desire, in the interests of 'vanquishing the evil'. It is in humans' nature to do this." He says this as if it's a fact of life that he's accepted. "This is why I do not trust her; she knows my nature as well, and wishes to change it. What I Am " The capital 'A' here is heard just as clearly as if he had written it "Cannot change." Pause. "Perhaps it is better to say that it SHOULD not. We all have our roles, dark and light. These roles are given unto us by powers even greater than ourselves. To change these roles would bring chaos even beyond those of us whose duty it is to bring chaos."

"Well I don't know Shinto from shinola. None of my various upbringings were big on religion." Tabitha kicks at a broken branch near her feet until she gets it close enough to reach and starts to trim and peel its bark with her fingernails. "But it's almost creepy how closely this conversation comes to what was done to create me. That involved one of those greater powers you mention. One that someone decided they wanted to cage, then tried and succeeded in… carving off a splinter of that being."

She scratches at her chest briefly then goes back to peeling the branch. "That splinter is what my powers came from. If I can find the being it came from, maybe even reunite them…" She shrugs and looks over at Ryu, "Sometimes I wish for the power to remove the urge to meddle from the human will. Too much trouble in the long run."

Ryuunosuke nods. "Shinto is… difficult to explain," he offers. "More to the point, she is a priestess, and believes that all beings can be purified. Perhaps she believes that the full presence of Yamata-no-Orochi can be purified as well. Perhaps it can. But should it? That, I do not know."

He smirks then, at the mention of removing the urge to meddle from humanity. "Aa, would that but be," he muses. "It was the urge to meddle that made humans build so much, to rise so high. But it also sees them trying to rise higher than their footing can support."

Tabitha snorts at the mention of purifying. "Just because someone isn't clean and good doesn't mean it isn't already pure. Pure darkness is still purity, after all." She listens to Ryu's comments about the urge to meddle and nods reluctantly. "True. Unfortunately I've seen more of the bad footing form of meddling than the greater heights variety." She glances over and gives Ryu a wink. "Guess that's why I'm so jaded in my old age."

"One tends to see the rising up side more when one acts contrary to humanity's values," Ryuunosuke notes. "I suppose strength needs a place to be aimed at. So 'villains' such as myself are needed."

He pauses. Considers something. "I know it is frowned upon to ask a lady this… but how old do you mean? I do not know if you went into detail with where your power came from."

Tabitha chuckles, "You're in luck since I'm no lady." She scuffs her feet at the ground, clearing old grass away and leaving a patch of relatively clean dust. In that dust she starts to draw symbols with the peeled stick. "From what I've recently learned, this body is thousands of years old. But it wasn't until roughly a century ago that it became ensouled and /I/ came to be. I only have direct memories of just under two decades, however as the person that made me kept wiping my mind as a form of reset when I wouldn't act as he wanted."

The symbols she's drawing in the dust are of no earthly language, and even in their humble state seem to exist beyond simple dust scrawls. "Where my power, and incidently my soul came from is a much longer story. And one I'm still trying to fully understand myself. There are still several missing pieces."

Ryuunosuke listens to Tabitha's tale, wrinkling his nose a bit at the mention of someone wiping her mind. "I almost expect that myself, should I place a toe outside of their lines." 'They', of course, being the Priestess and her folks.

He grows thoughtful, though, when the mention of a longer story with missing pieces is made. "…You make me think of a line from a song I heard. Well… that the boy heard. «Oshiete, oshiete… Boku no naka ni dare ga iru no?»" If Tabitha can still translate other languages when she hears them?

'Tell me, tell me… Exactly who resides within me?'

It's likely that Tabitha does retain some ability to understand language as she seems to follow along with the lyrics well enough. There is a faint sound of cracking glass as her peeled stick traces along the ground. "Who resides within? Who, indeed." Her foot scrapes away what she's drawn and she deftly begins to draw new symbols. These symbols seem to exist beyond mere scrapings, like the ones before. But these even more so.

The first two are deceptively simple, but the ground under them seems to vibrate. The next several are somewhat more elaborate, but each one seems to designate a single ideal in its purest sense. Smaller symbols show signs of being combinations of the pure ideals. Then she hesitates before drawing the last four.

The first of these she stops before finishing it. It lies in the dust without the presence of the others, but even so the grass nearby seems to decay without being destroyed.

The last three symbols are the most elaborate and share commonalities with each other. When they're finished she sits heavy in her swing. "The story of the universe as it was once etched into my own skin. The short form is that Word and Will together came into being and the universe was begotten in their echoes. Ideas became ideals, which became form. Form overlapped and echoed further which became complexities. Then some complexities chose to leave the realm of form to create the realm of the physical. But in turning thought into matter, imbalance was made. So the cycle was created to return matter to energy, energy to thought, and thought back into matter."

She points her stick at the unfinished symbol, "The last ideal brought into being. Entropy. The mechanism to keep the cycle in motion." She glances over to Ryu, "Its name on my skin was Novoros, and it's possible that it was one of your ancestors. I know it combined with other ideas, and physical complexities to create further entities which are best described as celestines. In the physical universe there is a vast difference between a planet… and a World. Between a star… and Sun. The first World was Shada and the first Sun was Kyrios. Other Worlds took form with them and so too did a second Sun.

"But while this was going on, Novoros was learning that it enjoyed the power that came when matter decayed through entropy. Enjoyed it so much that Novoros began hoarding it without sending it back through the cycle. This threatened everything, and so the Word and Will made their displeasure known. But they learned that Novoros had corrupted many of the ideals and complexities and even some of the celestines. There was a kind of conflict I can't even imagine that took place across… /everything/. Eventually Novoros was pushed back and held away from the cycle by creating another universe around this one and then another to buffer between them. Three universes became warded by three volunteer celestines."

She points to the last three symbols. "These three were gifted essence from all of the others, making them into something new. They were called Elysians and each one stood ward over one of the three universes. Urhanos stands at the center, Mahras at the outer, and Ahmherant here at the core." She gances over at Ryu to see if she's managed to lose him yet.

Ryuunosuke looks to the symbols as they're being drawn. Listens to Tabitha's story. And listens well — this is an older one than he's ever heard. Perhaps there's something of the boy there after all, since he looks between the symbols and Tabitha a few times, his expression as a curious as… well, a young boy his apparent age. His brows raise a bit when she notes the possibility of Novoros being an ancestor.

When Tabitha glances up, it looks as though Ryuunosuke's managed to follow well enough. He's not looking at her as though she's lost her mind, so there's that! In fact, he has a question. "If Novoros is being held away from the rest, how is its purview continuing?" he asks. "How is it that things still decay and return through the cycle?"

Tabitha grins at the question and leans her swing over to give Ryu a quick playful hip bump. "Good catch. Part of the solution was that a portion of the solar celestines changes their own nature. Inverted themselves from Suns into Siphons, which are the celestine version of singularities. Then Shada gave up her own physical form to act as the force to return what the Siphons removed. More moving parts, but the overall effect was a new state of balance." Then she sighs, "It would've likely gone on unto the natural end of things, but there's that whole 'need to meddle' thing popping up."

"Each of the outer universes contain echoes of this one, including all forms of life. But they also 'spin' at different rates such that time moves much more slowly at the center and rapidly at the outside than it does here at the core. A man by the name of Peter Tamen lived in the outer universe, which is by all evidence a real cesspool thanks to the influence of Novoros. Peter's life eventually soured him into darkness and eventually that darkness led him to attempt to reverse time."

"He failed, but didn't know it because he found himself in what he thought was the same place only thousands of years back. What he'd actually done was tear a hole across the borders of universes and ended up here in the core. And he didn't arrive alone. His experiments with time had drawn the attenion of his universe's Elysian, Mahras. The violence of the transit caused Mahras to become bonded with Peter." She takes a long breath and lets it out. "It was not a gentle bonding. Frankly it drove Peter Tamen mad until all that was left was his ambition and a great deal of warped ideals born of his home universe. He tried to separate himself from Mahras by making a new form for it to bond with, but it never took no matter how much Peter refined his work. Until…"

Tabitha goes quiet again, this time for longer. Her hand rises up and squeezes over her breastbone once more. "Until he had the idea of cracking away part of Mahras' essence and using that smaller portion in his experiment. This time it worked, and thus was I ensouled. It was that splinter that gave me my powers, and is what I cut out of myself a few months ago. It's also that splinter that I try using to locate and make contact with Ahmharant in this universe, to try and heal the wound Peter Tamen tore in the universes. Because he's started using it to draw servants of Novoros across, and I think it's obvious what the endgame is in that."

Ryuunosuke actually seems surprised at the hip bump, and places a foot down on the ground and blinks in Tabitha's direction. He acts like he hasn't even had anyone do that to him before. Which… well, between part of him being an ancient demon of destruction and chaos and the other part being a teenage boy in a sexually repressed culture, he probably hasn't. But anyway.

This situation with how Tabitha came about, it intrigues him. He listens intently, putting the pieces together in his mind. And a frown grows as he does. he remains quiet as Tabitha hesitates, not wanting to push her into revealing this. But when she does?

"I see," is all he says at first. "It could be worse. It could have been Novoros he bonded with, and that would have placed a piece of it within you instead of Mahras. I imagine that would be messier yet. But… yes. That must be stopped. There are enough entities of entropy here in this universe. That sort of imbalance…" He pauses. "Aa, meddling priestess. Here I am speaking of balance…"

Tabitha nods slightly, shrugging one shoulder, "True, but if that had happened he wouldn't have needed to make me in the first place since getting Novoros back into the core universe would've brought it all to a rather ugly and final end." She scuffs her foot across the ground, erasing all of the symbols she scratched there. She reaches over to place a hand on Ryu's shoulder when he finds his own hesitation. "Even you serve the balance, Yamato-no-Orochi, even as Ryuunosuke. Destruction is not evil in itself. It serves to keep things always in motion, never stagnant. Never doubt that you are both mighty and vital, no matter what a meddling priestess thinks."

"So it seems," Ryuunosuke replies, regarding the result of Novoros coming back to the core. "But you say he is bringing its agents here? That will unbalance the universes, yes? Or if nothing else, the more of Novoros's power enters this universe, the more of a foothold it has here. That would be equally bad."

Though he last bit there, about him being vital… that makes him look down at the ground near his feet. "It is… a bit more complicated than that," he says quietly. "Demons are, in my people's beliefs, souls who left the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Removal from the cycle corrupts the soul. I am a demon, thus I am removed from that cycle as well."

Tabitha's voice takes on a gentle lilt, the tone of a mother soothing a hurt child. "Mortal religions are humanity's way of reaching for understanding in a universe they can only see the barest tiny crack of when the light is right. It's possible that Yamato-no-Orochi was once a mortal soul, but I do not believe that it is a corrupt one. I've felt corrupted souls slithering through me on their way into this universe. I don't feel that corruption when I'm around you. Demon? Certainly. Corrupt? I don't see it."

Ryuunosuke is quiet for a moment more after Tabitha's words. "I could ask myself how, if I enjoyed destruction so much, could I not be a corrupted soul? Even the daughters of Foot-Stroking-Elder and Hand-Stroking-Elder. I still remember. I remember what great joy I took in consuming their seven daughters. A mortal would ask me — how could anything but a corrupted soul enjoy such monstrous acts? Perhaps more than one corrupted soul.

"But as you say… mortals often only see a small facet of the greater whole in their eyes," he decides. "They can perhaps only see the destruction at face value. Not for what its purpose is. Perhaps this that has introduced me to a smaller perspective. Perhaps that was the purpose of being trapped in this body. To learn the… measure of that which I am tasked with. The cost of that which I must destroy. Or perhaps I became too greedy. As did Novoros. Perhaps I took too much, and this is the lesson I must learn."

"All good questions. And there is also this to consider: As I recall your story, when you were defeated by Susa-no-o and he destroyed your body… was that not the act that provided unto Japan the very symbols of their imperial virtue? The blade, the mirror, and the gem?" Tabitha asks this question shrewdly, intending to build upon what Ryu has already started looking at himself. "You ask good questions, my friend. Ones I've found myself asking in the depths of night when the children are in bed. And before you think to ask, I haven't found much in the way of answers."

Tabitha sticks her tongue out as she says this, showing that she's still holding onto her sense of humor even around topics this heavy. Then she gets an 'oh yeah' look. "And before I forget, yes the agents of Novoros could do a lot of damage and make it possible for it to come through. But those same agents, called the Seven Travesties, were there when I was rescued after getting kidnapped last year. Their physical forms were destroyed by the group that spearheaded the rescue. If the universe is even just a bit merciful it will take them a long time and outside help to get new forms."

"Only the sword," Ryuunosuke replies. "When Susanoo destroyed my physical form, he took Kusanagi no Tsurugi from my body." Here he smirks. "Legend states that it was there, not how it had gotten there. All three were given to a mortal descendant of Amaterasu by she herself, as proof that his line was destined to rule over Japan. I had planned to eat all three of them. It was a perfect opportunity to both steal their power AND sow chaos and disunity. I only managed to find the sword; Japan's Imperial line kept the mirror and the gem well-hidden, and Susanoo managed to destroy my body before I could find either of the others."

He chuckles at Tabitha's expression, what he'd call a 'bi-da'. "'Why' is always the hardest question to answer. Perhaps it is only natural that, if we are created for a purpose, that we would enjoy that purpose. It gives us… well, purpose. It is literally what we were destined to do. Perhaps we merely grow to enjoy it too much."

As for the agents of Novoros? Ryuunosuke nods. "One can hope. Sealing the rift entirely is an ideal outcome." Pause. "…I do not know if I can call upon enough of my former power. Or if I can, perhaps it will be too much the power of destruction to be of any use to you. But if I can, I would like to help you seal the rift."

Tabitha nods her understanding and reaches over to pat Ryu's shoulder one more time. "Thank you. I'll remember to call you if I can, if it comes to that."

Ryuunosuke nods once. He still can't shake the feeling that he's been the butt of someone's cosmic joke. He sighs. "One of these days I am going to cross the Floating Bridge to Takama-ga-hara and find out which of the kami it was whose idea of a joke this was, and… become violent." But he smiles, despite the words. "Aa, I'd better get back to the school. But if you need me, call me." How? He has a phone. Even Yamata-no-Orochi has a cell phone these days! Once he gives the number to Tabitha, he turns, waving. "Take care."

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